Reprinted from the National Council of Churches website

November 17, 2000

Bishop Anthony O'Connell, Chairman
National Conference of Catholic Bishops
Committee on Marriage and Family Life

Dr. Richard Land, President
Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission
Southern Baptist Convention

Bishop Kevin Mannoia, President
National Association of Evangelicals

Dear Anthony, Richard and Kevin:

I write to remove my signature from the November 14, 2000, statement on "A Christian Declaration on Marriage."

I do so because I did not adequately consult with the 36 member communions of the National Council of Churches prior to agreeing to sign the statement.

A number of the NCC member communions interpret the document more as a condemnation of same-sex unions than as an affirmation of marriage. The fact that the declaration omits mention of same-sex unions is taken by some as proof that all of the signatories disapprove of such unions.

Further, I am concerned that in our dangerously fragmented and violent society, misinterpretation of the declaration may be used by some as a pretext for attacks on gay and lesbian persons.

My hope, when I signed the Declaration on Christian Marriage on November 14, was a sincere one that we could find ways to work together as Christians to reduce the high rate of divorce in our nation by better preparing people for marriage and supporting them in their marriage vows. I still hold that hope, even though I find that I cannot support this particular declaration.

My withdrawal should in no way be seen as a weakening of my commitment to building the larger ecumenical table about which we have talked. I have been heartened this week as Father John Ford, the Rev Jim Is, and the Rev. Bernard Wilson spoke eloquently at our General Assembly from the Roman Catholic, Evangelical and Pentecostal traditions about the promise and potential of an expanded ecumenical vision.

I remain committed to that goal and confidant that we can find ways to work together.

May God bless you and may God guide us in our journey on the path of Christian unity.

Bob Edgar
General Secretary

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